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Jan. 29, 2023

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Horch likely winner for Clark County sheriff

After most contentious race in years, both candidates poised to assist final winner

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Campaign manager Scott Wilcox, second from right, embraces John Horch, right, to celebrate Horch's Tuesday night lead in the Clark County sheriff's race at an election night gathering at the Red Cross Building at the Fort Vancouver National Site.
Campaign manager Scott Wilcox, second from right, embraces John Horch, right, to celebrate Horch's Tuesday night lead in the Clark County sheriff's race at an election night gathering at the Red Cross Building at the Fort Vancouver National Site. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Clark County voters appeared to have chosen John Horch to be their next sheriff, according to Tuesday night’s preliminary results.

Horch embraced his wife in a side room before announcing to the packed Red Cross Building at the Fort Vancouver National Site that he’d received 59.62 percent of the votes tallied Tuesday night.

Rey Reynolds, who is a corporal with the Vancouver Police Department, received 40.38 percent of Tuesday night’s count.

Horch continued to embrace family, along with two of his biggest supporters, current Sheriff Chuck Atkins and retired Sheriff Garry Lucas. With the two of them on either side of him, Horch said to the room, “Hey, look at this: Three sheriffs up here.”

But Reynolds wasn’t glum at his gathering with several area Republican candidates at the RV Inn Style Convention Center. He said he expected he would trail Horch in the first round of results because many of his supporters didn’t vote until Monday or Tuesday.

Initial voter turnout was reported at 36.37 percent.

In one of the more contentious Clark County sheriff’s races in recent memory, Horch was positioned as the heir-apparent to the role after Atkins announced he would not seek reelection. Atkins appointed Horch to oversee the agency’s enforcement branch as the Chief Criminal Deputy in 2019. Horch has been with the sheriff’s office for 33 years.

Reynolds, touting 38 years of law enforcement experience, hoped to convince voters he was the fresh perspective the sheriff’s office needed. During his campaign, he associated rising crime in the area and low staffing with Horch’s leadership.

Reynolds said he looks forward to watching his deficit shrink as more ballots are processed throughout the week. Once all the votes are counted, he said on Tuesday night that he still expects to be the next Clark County sheriff.

Horch recognized the tallies will change and said he was reserving a big victory speech for once the results were more concrete. But he said he feels good about his lead, which was larger than he’d let himself hope for.

“I’m very excited and very honored at the initial results,” Horch said. “A lot of hard work went into it. I do want to reach out and congratulate Rey for running a great race. He made me a better candidate, as well, and I want us now to come together. I know politics, people get involved and emotions get involved, but I think it’s time now to go, ‘Hey, we’re about public safety.’ And I hope he is that way, too, and I believe he will be.”

Reynolds said if Horch does win, he will call him and ask what he can do to help. And he expects Horch to do the same if the final results flip.

“It’s important to me to know that we are going to do much more,” Reynolds said. “And when I am sheriff, we are going to do a tremendous job at bringing back our safety, bringing back the joy of living in Clark County.”

Horch said he’s looking forward to getting the work done that he’s talked about for the past two years and getting back to focusing entirely on the job, instead of splitting his time with campaigning.

Horch also called his brother, who lives on the East Coast and was staying up extra late to hear the results.

Horch and Reynolds each beat out a third candidate, David Shook, in the August primary to advance to Tuesday’s general election. Shook has since been appointed to run the Clark County Jail, which was previously a contentious campaign issue in the primary race.

The sheriff will be tasked with implementing a body camera program, increasing staffing at the agency and battling a public perception of a lack of safety.

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